Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 25 May 2019


Reader, only consider:  The “Bikoy” videos came out—five of them—starting on April 2 and ending April 22. Each video focused on a different personality; the first was Paolo Duterte, the second was Honeylet Avanceña, the third was Bong Go, the fourth was Manases Carpio and the fifth was Elizalde Co, all allegedly involved in the drug trade. Three were members of the President’s family—his son, his “partner” and his son-in-law; one was a close-in aide, and the fifth was someone from Bicol.

What was the response of the government?

 On  April 17, the justice secretary said that the National Bureau of Investigation would be investigating—not the claims that Bikoy made, but presumably Bikoy himself and whoever allowed or caused the video to be made.

Why didn’t the government do likewise with the convicted felons who accused Sen. Leila de Lima of being a drug lord? Instead, they charged her in court on the basis of those accusations, and have incarcerated her for more than two years.)

Unable to find Bikoy, they focused on the website owner/operator, Rodel Jayme. On April 30, they obtained a search warrant for his premises, invited him to answer questions, which he “voluntarily” did, and then arrested him. Somewhere around May 2, they charged him  with “inciting to sedition,” which carries a penalty of six months and one day to six years, plus fines, plus accessory penalties.

That’s a stretch, Reader, don’t you think? I looked up the meaning of sedition: It means conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or a monarch. Our revised penal code gives specifics, but you get the general idea. Anyway, how could the website owner, who had nothing to do with the videos, be engaged in inciting to sedition? It takes a certain kind of talent and a sympathetic judge to make the connection.

When Jayme had been scared out of his wits, they dangled the possibility of using him as a “state witness,” meaning that if he cooperates, he will go free. What do you think Jayme will do?

(It is these scare tactics that is worrisome. The “inciting to sedition” is too broad a charge—it can include almost anything, and anyone, including you and moi.)

Maybe that’s why the President’s men came out with the “Oust Duterte Matrix,” or whatever presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo  was waving around at about the same time—to show that there was conspiracy to arouse public sentiment against him so that he would be ousted. But it was more like a farce, because the matrix was first defended as having been drawn by the President himself, which automatically makes it true, but then was later repudiated, and then again defended. Heavens. Make up your minds, my dears. Did the President construct this matrix or didn’t he? Saying that he did, and then that he didn’t, and then that he did, does not exactly strengthen your credibility.

Anyway, on May 6, Bikoy came out,  identified himself as Peter Advincula. The venue? The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) office. He asked the group for legal assistance. And then disappeared. As I recall, the Davao chapter of the IBP complained about his appearance and statement. Anyway, the IBP did not come to his aid, and the Senate (or Sen. Ping Lacson) refused to conduct a hearing. In effect, he was left to his own devices. And his checkered past was brought out. He is an estafador,  an information peddler, a liar.

On May 9, Malacañang (Panelo) said that it would be a waste of time to use public funds to investigate the charges against those close to Mr. Duterte, since the accuser is not to be believed.

On May 13, elections. Mr. Duterte’s opposition did not win a single seat in the Senate (not once in 80 years of elections had this happened).

On May 23, Bikoy surrendered to the police. And held a press conference, courtesy of the police, wherein he recanted EVERYTHING, saying that the Liberal Party and Sen. Antonio Trillanes made him do it. Do you wonder why?

The government swallows his story hook, line and sinker. And is now ready to investigate the Liberal Party and Trillanes, since Bikoy is now credible.

Charges against the Duterte clan and friends, Bikoy is a liar. Charges against the Liberal Party and Trillanes, Bikoy is telling the truth. Is that fair? Is that just? Is that the rule of law?